By an overwhelming majority, IUE (International Union of Electrical Workers) Local 509 and Valeo North America today announced ratification of a groundbreaking, eight-year labor contract, believed to be the first of its kind in U.S. automotive manufacturing history. The contract runs from August 14, 2000 to July 31, 2008.

The contract covers approximately 2,700 hourly employees at the Rochester plant, formerly owned by General Motors and later by ITT, which was acquired by Valeo in 1998. The Rochester facility manufactures automotive wiper systems, air management systems, electric motors and actuators.

The ratification vote was announced by Joseph Giffi, president, IUE Local 509 and John Ptolemy, director of human resources for Valeo motors and actuators worldwide.

"The eight-year contract, together with new productivity and training initiatives, demonstrates our resolve to create long-term job security for our workers," said Giffi. "This is the model upon which future labor contracts within the auto industry will be based."

"This contract ensures continuity of production for our North American customers, including General Motors, DaimlerChrysler, Ford and Delphi," added Ptolemy. "In addition to providing expanded job opportunities for our employees and a stable environment for our community, it allows for the introduction of new process and product technologies at the plant."

The spirit of cooperation which has been developed between IUE Local 509 and Valeo has resulted in the ratification of this contract four months before expiration of the old contract. The new contract, which accommodated the interests of both IUE and Valeo, represents a new relationship between labor and management that will be fostered in numerous initiatives in the months and years ahead.

The contract's innovative provisions for 'multi-skilling' and training are examples of how management and labor are now effectively working together. Multi-skilling -- which allows a worker to perform tasks generally considered outside his/her job description -- is expected to significantly increase workforce flexibility and productivity. Multi-skilling will break down long- standing lines of demarcation that existed between job classifications. Extensive worker training of both skilled and non-skilled workers will be provided by Valeo to ensure their success.

Valeo is focused on the design, production and sale of components, integrated systems and modules for cars and trucks, and ranks among the world's top automotive suppliers. Valeo achieved sales in 1999 of $7.75 billion U.S. (7.7 billion euro). It has 118 plants, 39 research and development centers, ten distribution centers and employs 55,000 people in 20 countries worldwide. Of these, there are 20 plants and eight research and development centers in North America employing 14,000 people.